Some people bemoan changes in educational models and practices. The way they were taught was good enough for them; it ought to be good enough for today’s students. They tend to forget that the models used thirty years ago were different than the models used sixty years ago.
Think about how learning has changed over the past fifteen years. Ebooks, Google searches, scientific calculators on smartphones—the list could go on. Not all changes are the result of technology. Service learning and collaborative learning are two approaches that greatly impact education today.
Service learning is built around community service. A group becomes involved in a local community service project with assignments that focus on responsibility, planning, civics, and skills needed to complete the task. A key element is giving the group the opportunity to reflect on the experience so they can build on it in the future.
One example may be participation in a Habitat for Humanity project. In the process of building a house, group members learn how to work with others and share stories with others to learn about culture and sociology. A geometry teacher may also use the experience to teach about angles, demonstrating the “why” behind studying geometry in the first place.
Collaborative learning involves a group working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create some type of product. This is different from cooperative learning in that everyone is working together on the solution, task, or product. Student are actively engaged with each other as opposed to working to finish an individual part of a larger task. An example of collaborative learning could be as simple as the development of a definition for an idea or concept. Students are given various definitions to review and then as a group are led to develop their own definition. While the final product is important, so is the process and interaction that take place within the group.
Similarities in the Approaches
These approaches are related in that people are encouraged to work together for a shared common goal. This shared goal is usually something that requires dependence upon others. Both approaches include opportunities to respond to content shared and applied. Both approaches are learner-focused. Experience matters in both approaches, as does emphasis on the process along with the final results.
Impact on Bible Study
Here are some of the implications these learning models may have on Bible study groups:
- Creating experiences where the group works together to study the Bible, understand a truth, or determine how to live that truth out in today’s world.
- Providing opportunities to reflect on experiences to gain deeper understanding of a Bible truth.
- Allowing the group to direct part of the learning experience.
- Looking for ways that community involvement reinforces biblical truth.
What other implications do these educational models have for how you organize and lead a Bible study group?
Download a sample of the new Daily Discipleship Guide at lifeway.com/exploredaily and look for ways these learning models impacted how this resource was created.